THE Coalition for Good Governance (CGG) condemns the arrests of Wong Chin Huat, Mohamad Sabu, three activists who attempted to deliver a cake to the Prime Minister’s office to commemorate Altantuya Shaariibuu’s 31st birthday, and this morning’s arbitrary arrests of over 50 citizens in Perak. These arrests have to end now as they are undemocratic and uncalled for on the part of the police and the government.
Wong Chin Huat, Mohamad SabuIn April 2009, Datuk Seri Najib Razak succeeded Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as the nation’s prime minister. Najib promised to make big changes in the ruling party of Umno and to the nation.
But the police and the government have time and again prevented the public from displaying their feelings over the unconstitutional Perak takeover and the Altantuya issue. During the last three by-elections which ended on 7 April, political parties were barred from bringing up a number of controversial issues during their electoral campaigns. These included Altantuya’s murder and the Perak monarchy’s decision. During the Kuala Terengganu by-election, five members from a political party’s youth wing were arrested for putting up pictures of Altantuya.
Malaysian citizens have been fighting for their rights — whether for forest conservation, or landless labourers or for civil liberties. Those arrested were fighting for the basic right to speak and have an opinion. The new government under Najib must realise that the people are in fact fighting for their constitutional rights. The question that the government needs to answer is: do they need to engage in such arbitrary arrests? Is this violent way the only way?
History is repeating itself. Whenever there are dissenting voices and disagreement with government policies and actions, banning is used, arrests are made, and draconian laws are used to justify the need to suppress dissension. This is indeed a dangerous trend as it only manifests how the state moves towards becoming more and more authoritarian, closing democratic space for all democratic activities.
Political problems cannot be solved through repression. People’s aspirations cannot be crushed by state violence. That is the lesson we can learn from history from the time of the national emergency till today. We must learn from our own history.
These suppressive actions that violate Malaysian human rights put into serious question the sincerity of the new government led by Najib to work towards democratic reforms. Freedom of expression and of assembly are fundamental human rights guaranteed under our federal constitution. Until and unless those arrested and all ISA detainees are released, the prime minister’s concept of “1Malaysia” will remain an empty speech.
We urge the police and the government to immediately release all those arrested. We also urge the government and the sultan of Perak to immediately dissolve the Perak state assembly to let the people elect their own state government.
Maria Chin Abdullah
Coalition for Good Governance (CGG)
7th May 2009